I recently participated in a project by Kati Driscoll for Delaware Fun-A-Day in which she interviewed and photographed twenty nine women with the theme centering around what it’s like being a woman, or how we define the word “woman” and compiled them into one book so that the reader can see the different points of views from women of all walks of life.
Well, I just finished reading it and I have to say that I absolutely love it. Not only are some of my long time friends included so it almost felt like a post-high school yearbook, but I read some of the stories by women I’ve never met or spoken to before and was surprised by the different opinions we had about gender identification or gender roles in our personal lives and society. Surprised in a good way!
I have to say my favorite was Brielle. I’ve never met Brielle, but she uses the term “gender awkward” and talks about how difficult it is to present herself under any of the pre-established labels because she doesn’t feel like she fits completely into any of them. While she’s happy being who she is, it seems to make other people more uncomfortable when they don’t know which box to fit her in. I think it’s important to understand that we don’t all fit under one category not just in gender but in life in general. I love it when people are comfortable enough to admit that they can’t be fit neatly into any box.
What really stood out for me in the book was that we all feel the pressure to become wives, mothers, and sexually attractive starting at young ages. For some girls as they grow older they go with that flow. They are pretty, so they embrace it at a young age. They like the attention from boys, so they dress provocatively and flaunt their bodies and it works for them. They may be creative, intelligent, or bold in their opinions, but they might also decide to set those things aside because let’s face it… being mediocre is easy. And it’s much easier when you follow a path set before you by society. You’re young, you’re pretty, you can get a boyfriend and have fun. When you’re older, you get married and you have children and build a home. There is nothing wrong with that and building a home, raising a family, and being a wife are completely challenging life choices so I respect that. But that’s not the only thing women were meant to do with their lives and it doesn’t make us any less of a woman if we decide not to do those things.
Men go through a similar pressure. They have to deal with society pressuring them to do what makes them “manly”.
I think when it comes down to it we have to remember that being a man or being a woman is only part of who we are. God put us all on this earth to be much more than a body. We are more than baby machines (and I’m including men in that term, too). We each have unique skills, talents, and abilities that define us. We each have our own sense of personal style that doesn’t HAVE to fit into any one particular form. We each have the opportunity to take our lives and do amazing things with them. Create beautiful things. Inspire people. HELP each other. Everyone has something to contribute to the world. Let’s stop focusing on how nice of a home you keep and how many children we have and start thinking about what makes us different than everyone else and what makes someone unique (and therefore beautiful) because that is just what the world needs.